Thursday, December 4, 2008

Teacher Fired Over Relationship Sues City


By Conor Greene

A 37-year-old city school teacher and her 19-year-old model boyfriend have suddenly been cast in the spotlight since the Ozone Park couple’s relationship was first reported last week by a daily newspaper.

The teacher, Gina Salamino, is suing the city, claiming she was improperly fired from her job as a second-grade teacher at Public School 121 in Richmond Hill. She argues in court papers that her boyfriend Joshua Walter, then 17-years-old, didn’t attend a single class during the 2006-07 school year because he was traveling the world as a model for Hugo Boss.

The pair first met in 2002, when Walter was 12, according to court records. They ran into each other again in 2006 at a party, and began attending movies together, exchanging hundreds of phone calls, and spending nights at her Howard Beach apartment, authorities say.

Officials began investigating the relationship in 2006 after receiving a tip that Salamino was seen kissing a much younger individual. The couple now lives together in Ozone Park with their young child.

A former neighbor in Howard Beach told the Daily News that she assumed Salamino’s house guest was a family member. “I thought it was a nephew or something,” the neighbor said. “He was young, and he looked like a kid.”

Despite his experience around the world as a model for Hugh Boss, Walter apparently didn’t appreciate the media attention brought upon the couple. Last week, after the story broke, Walter angrily confronted reporters and cameramen stationed on the public sidewalk across the street from the couple’s home.

“Leave me alone. Understand that? Leave me alone,” he yelled wildly while crossing the street to the cameras. “You want to see assault? You want to see assault?” he yelled at an Inside Edition reporter. “Get the f--- outta here! Find someplace else to take pictures.” As a result of the violent outburst, officers from the 106th Precinct were called to restore order. Officers left after speaking with Walter in front of the house, and no charges were filed.

According to the city Department of Education, the fact that Walter didn’t physically attend classes at Bryant High School in Long Island City is irrelevant, since he was enrolled there while Salamino was teaching within the city school system. “I’m tapping that a-- and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he reportedly told officials, according to a report by Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.

On a video posted on YouTube, Walter said he is a “regular guy,” despite his high profile modeling career, which has landed him in the pages of magazines around the world. “I like to eat, I like to watch sports, play sports, know what I mean?” he said. “Chill with my girlfriend, know with I mean?”

In her lawsuit against the city, Salamino’s lawyers argue that her firing “was irrational and not based on adequate or substantial evidence in the record.” She reportedly told an investigator that claims she engaged in sexual misconduct are “ludicrous” even thought Walter’s name remained on the enrollment list for Bryant High School.

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